THE CHALLENGES OF TEACHING ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS EDUCATION ON SPIRITUAL AND ACADEMIC FORMATION OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN NIGERIA

THE CHALLENGES OF TEACHING ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS EDUCATION ON SPIRITUAL AND ACADEMIC FORMATION OF SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT

This study sought to investigate the challenges of teaching IRE on spiritual and academic formation of secondary school students in Nigeria, Nigeria. The study shows that the foundation of education in Islam is guided by the principles of Quran and Hadith (the saying and deeds of Prophet Muhammad) (PBUH).

Indeed, the first revelation of the Quran (Q.96; 1-5) forms the cornerstone of education in Islam. The study further shows that from the Islamic point of view, education is classified into two categories that is, the knowledge of religious obligations- fardh ‘ain. Revealed knowledge or religious sciences fall under this category. The second category is knowledge of the world or universe- fardh kifayah which is communal obligation. This means that it is a duty for all members of the community. Every Muslim should strive to develop himself or herself by earning a living. Acquired knowledge fall under this category.

It is noted that IRE‟s primary goal is moral refinement and spiritual formation. IRE is inclined towards noble character building. As an academic subject, IRE has been very instrumental in developing the natural and personal skills of students. The content of IRE helps students to develop spiritually and academically leading to moral refinement and character building. The framework of the study was derived from the holy Quran and Hadith and various perspectives were used.

The study adopted both systematic and purposive sampling procedures to select 12 secondary schools out of 37 that offer IRE in Nigeria. Four categories of respondents were selected. These include IRE teachers and students, directors and managers of Islamic organizations


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such as Islamic Foundation, Ummah Foundation, Supreme Council of Nigeria Muslims (SUPKEM) among others and curriculum planners and developers. Data was collected through interviews and questionnaires and was analyzed with the help of tables of frequency distribution and percentages. It was then synthesized and interpreted accordingly.

The study shows that the major challenges facing the teaching of IRE in secondary schools in Nigeria is shortage of trained IRE teachers. Other challenges include inadequate teaching and learning resources and lack of capacity building and staff development programmes. Few students enrol for IRE because of the negative attitude by both the parents and the students towards the subject. It is also shown that parents encourage their sons and daughters to pursue courses which would be useful in the labor market in terms of getting formal employment. This involves taking subjects which are science oriented as opposed to Art based subjects such as IRE.

The study is concluded by noting that Islamic organizations have played a big role in assisting the needy secondary school students in Nigeria. These organizations pay school fees for the needy students through bursary schemes. Other contributions made by these organizations include provision of teaching and learning materials for IRE, sponsorship of Muslim students to teacher training colleges for P1, Diploma and University to study IRE and finally establishment of colleges to train IRE teachers.


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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.0 Introduction

This chapter comprises the background to the study, statement of the problem, research objectives, questions and premises. The significance of the study has been discussed and literature related to the study thematically reviewed. The chapter also shows the methodology that was used by the researcher to conduct the research. Finally, the limitations of the study have been outlined.

1.1 Background to the study

The term „education‟, in its literal meaning is derived from two Latin words, „educare‟ which means to rear, to bring up or to nourish a child and „educere‟ which means to bring forth, to lead, to draw out or to train (Thungu, et al., 2008:2). The scholars emphasize that education is never a finished process and it is worthwhile because it produces something of value. Education therefore, is the transmission of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values which should enable the individual to develop into a „good‟ member of the society (Thungu, et al., 2008:2).

Education is one of the principle means by which society is transformed. It aims at the development of character and mind. The development of skills and knowledge of the people of a nation constitutes one of the highest social factors in relation to national development. Education is involved in both the creation and transmission of values. Therefore, education permeates all aspects of life- spiritual, material and intellectual with one objective, that is to improve life (Brett, 1973).


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The functions of education in the society cannot be under estimated. Education brings about individual development, thereby developing the individual‟s potential to the highest level. Education also prepares an individual to adjust well in the society and to develop a high sense of responsibility to self and to the society. It enables a person to think critically and constructively. Education is used to bring about changes in agriculture, health, religion, technology and other disciplines by imparting relevant knowledge, skills and attitudes (Thungu, et al., 2008:2)

In Islam, the terms knowledge and education are both derived from the Arabic words „ilm‟ and „ta‟alim‟ respectively. The word „ilm is a verbal noun of the root verb „alima. Literally, „alima means „he knew and he was acquainted with‟. The active participle, „aalim (pl. „ulamaa,‟aalimun), means someone who knows and the past participle, ma‟lum (pl.ma‟lumaat), denotes an object known (or an object of knowledge). The English equivalent of „ilm is „knowledge‟.

As far as the term „alim is concerned, it exclusively refers to Allah and appears about thirteen times in the holy Quran. Allah is described as „alimu ghaybi wa al- shahada‟ (the knower of the unseen and the visible). The word al-„alim occurs thirty two times and „alima twenty two times as an attribute of Allah. The word „alim appears about one hundred and nine times (Islamic Journal Vol. IV, 2004).

The Quran explicitly encourages the gaining of knowledge and education as well as the value of learning from experience. The first revelation calls upon the Prophet, Peace Be Upon Him (PBUH) to seek knowledge in accordance with the divine guidance (Majid, 1982:42). Learning (knowledge) is therefore obligatory upon every Muslim male and female.


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(Sahih al-Bukhari, 2001, vol.III:52). Seeking knowledge is one of the most meritorious acts of ibadat (worship), that a Muslim can perform. The virtues of knowledge have been expressed by the Prophet by saying:

Acquire knowledge; he who acquires knowledge in the way of Allah Performs an act of piety; he who speaks of it praises the Lord; he who seeks it adores God; he who dispenses instruction in it bestows alms; He who imparts it to the deserving persons performs an act of devotion (Maina, 1993:44).

The foundation of education in Islam is thus guided by the principles of the Quran and Hadith (the sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad). The first revelation in the Quran (Q.96: 1-5) form the cornerstone of education in Islam (Maina, 1993:44).

Education from the Islamic perspective is classified into two broad categories. There is the knowledge of the religious obligations – the fundamentals known as fardh „ayn. Every Muslim, male and female must strive to acquaint himself or herself with the knowledge of the religion (Islam). This is in order to understand, appreciate and improve his or her relationship with the creator (Allah), fellow creatures and oneself. Revealed knowledge or religious sciences falls under this category. The second category is knowledge of the world or universe

fardh kifayah (communal obligation) (Kheir, 2000:3). In other words, a Muslim should strive to acquaint himself or herself with knowledge that embraces his or her political, social, economic development by earning a living. Acquired knowledge falls under this category. In essence, the main objective of education in Islam is to produce a believing community where every one of its members would be working towards achieving the goals of the divine Quranic discourse, that is, a Muslim‟s commitment to observe his or her duties towards Allah, self and the community (Kheir, 2000:3).


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In addition, Islamic education aims at moral and spiritual formation. Although Islamic education looks at physical, mental, scientific and practical aspects, more emphasis is laid on moral training. Another aim of Islamic education is instilling appreciation of secular issues in life. This is because Islam is a way of life and embraces political, social and moral, economic and religious aspects. Religious, social and moral aspects are regarded as most important. Islamic education is also concerned with the material aspects of life. Muslim philosophers studied science, literature and arts. These subjects are regarded as important both in the acquisition of a livelihood and in the strengthening of moral character (Thungu et al, .2008:29).

The Islamic concepts and principles of acquiring and creating knowledge have three degrees of knowledge. Firstly, there is „ilm al- Yaqin, that is, knowledge by inference. This depends on the truth of its (knowledge) assumptions (postulates) such as in deduction or on probabilities that is, induction. The second category is „Ayn al Yaqin which is knowledge by perception and observation. This is based on actual experience of phenomena. Scientific knowledge belongs to the above mentioned categories and is acquired from the study of natural phenomena which are signs of Allah (Ayat Allah) and symbols of ultimate reality. The last category of knowledge is Haqq al- Yaqin. Here, Allah reveals His signs not only in the observation and contemplation of the outer world („Afaq) but also through the inner experience of the mind (Anfus) (Ibn Hazim, 1999:16). This divine guidance comes to Allah‟s creatures in the first instance from the inner experience by means of Jibillah (instinct), Wijdaan (intuition), Ilham (inspiration) and Wahy (revelation). According to the teachings of Islam, the source of all knowledge is Allah since knowledge and wisdom are two of the attributes of Allah who is „Alim and Hakim (Omniscient and All- Wise) (Islamic Journal Vol. IV, 2004).


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From the Islamic point of view, education is comprehensive involving not only the dissemination of knowledge but also the development of character and instilling of Islamic values in human being. In other words, the education which is referred to in the Holy Quran and Sunnah with their guidance and instructions is concerned with aspects of moral qualities in order to promote Akhlaq (morality) (Majid, 1982).

The possession of knowledge coupled with faith and practice are pre-requisites for Muslims (Maina, 1993:46). It is therefore imperative upon all believers to acquire knowledge of the religion, to have wisdom and possess deep intellectual knowledge as expressed in the following verse:

A similar (favour have you already received) in that we have sent among you a messenger of your own, rehearsing to you our signs and purifying you and instructing you in scripture and wisdom and in new knowledge (Q.2:151)

The Islamic Religious Education (IRE) for secondary schools has been developed based on the two categories of knowledge in Islam, that is, for both spiritual and academic purposes. By the end of the course, the learner should be able to acquire knowledge, values and principles of Islam; emulate the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH); identify and observe the fundamental beliefs and practices of Islam; discharge all roles and responsibilities effectively as Allah‟s vicegerent on earth; recognize work as a form of Ibadah (worship of Allah); state the wonders of Allah‟s creation and develop a sense of responsibility in managing the environment and acquire relevant skills and values to cope with issues and contemporary challenges facing the society (Ummah) (Nigeria Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) syllabus, 2008; Nyaga, 2004:20-22 ).

It can therefore be argued that IRE‟s primary goal is moral refinement and spiritual training (Maina, 1993:50). This is clearly reflected in the general objectives of the subject. IRE is


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inclined towards noble character building. As an academic subject, IRE has been very instrumental in developing the natural talents and personal skills of the students. By educational pursuit, students can maximize their academic potentials hence contribute to both individual and national development. There will also be self fulfillment by the student once employed. He or she may be able to carter for his or her socio-economic needs. They will no longer depend on their guardians or parents as had been the case before.

Since the introduction of IRE syllabus in the formal school curriculum in the 1970‟s, it has experienced many challenges, the major one being shortage of trained teachers to teach the subject (Maina,1993:302; Maina, 2003:252; Yahya, 2004:35; Mujahid, 2007:3). Subsequently, many schools with a substantial Muslim population do not offer IRE to their students. This has compelled many students willing to learn IRE to opt for CRE. The subject has moreover, inadequate teaching and learning resources. Recommended textbooks and other teaching and learning resource materials such as audio-visual aids are hardly available in schools and institutions of higher learning. Even in those schools where the books are stocked, they are sometimes inadequate in relation to the student‟s needs (Yahya, 2004:35; Khalif, 2004: 5; Mujahid, 2007:3).

The other challenge is that some teachers are not literate in basic Arabic and avoid teaching the Qur‟an and Hadith, the basic sources of Islamic Sharia (Islamic law). There is also lack of capacity building and staff development programmes, yet training and in-service programmes form an integral part for quality curricula formulation, development, supervision and delivery (Khalif, 2004:4). This seems to be the situation in almost all districts in the country including Nigeria which has both private and public Muslim sponsored schools.

Inadequate trained teachers in IRE have adversely affected both the teaching and performance by learners in the subject in Nigeria schools. Most parents in Nigeria are


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ignorant about the IRE syllabus hence do not provide incentives and encouragement for the study of IRE by their children. Lack of interest and inability to purchase IRE learning resources by parents and guardians has greatly affected student‟s performance in the subject. In addition, parents have no time to give adequate guidance in IRE (Yahya, 2004:33).

In Muslim sponsored schools in Nigeria such as Kibra Academy, Muslim Academy and Wamy High School, IRE is compulsory to all students whereas in government (public) schools including Lenana High and Nigeria School, where teachers are available, IRE is optional as per the curriculum. Teachers in private Muslim sponsored schools are poorly paid and therefore lack motivation in discharging their responsibilities. Conflicts over the management of some of the schools has adversely affected acquisition by learners of learning resources for IRE as well as other subjects (Yahya, 2004:31). Evidently, the challenges facing the teaching of IRE in secondary schools affect academic and spiritual formation of students. This situation builds a case for the current study.

1.2 Statement of the Problem.

IRE is a subject that trains its students to devote their life and actions to Allah alone. Moreover, it teaches its students discipline showing them that acquisition of knowledge is not for material or world benefits alone but also for righteousness, spiritual, intellectual and moral development of the individual. By studying IRE, student’s attitude to life, their actions, decisions and approaches to all kinds and branches of knowledge, are governed by precepts and tenets of Islam (Q. 3:110). This complements social and economic development of the learner.

In spite of the fact that IRE was introduced in the secondary school curriculum, its objectives have only been partially attained. In Nigeria schools for instance, some of the teachers of IRE


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measure the attainment of IRE syllabus objectives by the grades obtained by learners in KCSE. This implies that they are mostly concerned with the academic aspects of the subject at the expense of moral and spiritual training. In some of the schools, students study IRE and prepare for exams on their own due to lack of IRE teachers. This has adversely affected the performance of some of these students in the subject. It is in light of the above that the researcher sought to examine the challenges of IRE on spiritual and academic formation of secondary school students in Nigeria.

1.3 Research Objectives.

1.      To trace the historical development of secondary school IRE curriculum.

2.      To assess the significance of IRE in spiritual and academic formation of the students in secondary schools in Nigeria.

3.      To identify and discuss the challenges of teaching IRE in secondary schools in Nigeria.

4.      To evaluate the role of Muslim organizations in the promotion of teaching of IRE in secondary schools in Nigeria

1.4 Research Questions.

1.      How has IRE curriculum developed?

2.      Of what significance is IRE in the spiritual and academic formation of the students in secondary schools in Nigeria?

3.      What challenges face the teaching of IRE in secondary schools in Nigeria?


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